The Bombay High Court on Wednesday adjourned the hearing on the bail application of Aryan Khan, Munmun Dhamecha and Arbaz Seth Merchant, in connection with the drugs on cruise case, till tomorrow, even as Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB)’s Deputy Director General (Northern Region) Gyaneshwar Singh said on Wednesday that NCB Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede will remain the investigating officer in the case “until substantial information is found against him”.
“The arguments of lawyers of accused number 1, 2 and 3 have concluded today. The hearing is scheduled for 3 pm tomorrow for further arguments,” Munmun Dhamecha’s lawyer Kaashif Khan Deshmukh told the media after the conclusion of the hearing today. A special court in Mumbai had earlier refused to grant bail to Aryan and two others in connection with the seizure of drugs. Following this, Aryan Khan moved a bail application in the Bombay High Court against the NDPS court order on his bail rejection.
Former attorney general of India Mukul Rohatgi, who is appearing for Aryan Khan in his bail application in Bombay High Court, requested the court on Wednesday to go through the arrest memo again. He pointed out that at the time of Aryan Khan’s arrest there were no charges of conspiracy. Lawyers of accused Aryan Khan, Munmun Dhamecha and Arbaz Merchant concluded arguments on their bail applications before Bombay HC on Wednesday. Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh for Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) will respond to the arguments tomorrow.
The NCB had earlier invoked charges relating to possession and consumption of drugs and later also added the charges of conspiracy in the case. Senior Counsel, Amit Desai who is representing accused 2 Arbaz Merchant also questioned the charges of conspiracy by NCB. “If there was no conspiracy at that moment, how come conspiracy came later,” he asked.
A report from Mumbai said an NCB team, led by Gyaneshwar Singh, is in Mumbai to probe allegations of corruption levelled by Prabhakar Sail, a witness in the drugs-on-cruise case. Sameer Wankhede was questioned for about four hours on Wednesday as part of the investigation and he put forward “many facts before the team”. Gyaneshwar Singh said a five-member inquiry team of NCB on Wednesday started an investigation into allegations levelled by Prabhakar Sail through an affidavit.
“We requested the Southwest region office to get notice served to key witnesses K.V. Gosavi and Sail but they could not be contacted. Through media, I request them to join the investigation and give evidence before the special enquiry team which is camping at CRPF mess in Bandra, Mumbai,” Singh said.
“Sameer Wankhede was questioned today for about four hours. He put forward many facts before the team. If necessary, more evidence and documents will be sought from him. He submitted case related documents that were sought. If needed, he will be questioned further. He will remain the investigating officer in the drugs-on-cruise ship case until substantial information is found against him,” Singh added.
Meanwhile, responding to the document forgery allegation raised by Maharashtra Cabinet Minister and NCP leader Nawab Malik against NCB Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede, the latter’s father claimed his ancestors were Dalits. Wankhede’s father Dnyandev Wankhede said on Wednesday: “I am a Dalit… all of us, my ancestors are Hindus. How can my son be Muslim?” He further said, “I married a Muslim woman. My wife wrote her name as Zaheida Dnyandev.”
“If Nawab Malik continues to intrude in private space and disturb our privacy then we will have to file a defamation case against him,” he added. Malik had earlier accused Wankhede of using a fake birth certificate to secure his government job. He had shared the birth certificate of Wankhede on Twitter saying “Sameer Dawood Wankhede’s fraud started from here.” Following this Wankhede said he will fight Malik legally.
Wankhede had previously said that all the allegations are false and that he was being targeted and is ready for a probe into allegations against him. NCB on Tuesday also denied probing the anonymous letter received by Malik which he forwarded to NCB Director General SN Pradhan.
Sameer Wankhede’s wife Kranti Redkar on Wednesday said that Wankhede’s “nikah” had taken place and the marriage had been registered under the Special Marriage Act. Redkar said, “Nikahnama is correct. Nikah happened, but Sameer legally didn’t change his religion, caste. It was just a formality as my mother-in-law was Muslim and for her happiness, nikah happened. Birth certificate shared by Nawab Malik is wrong.” “By sharing our personal photos, Nawab Malik is acting against the constitutional oath he took. We will take legal action against him, an FIR has been registered. His only motive is to remove Sameer Wankhede from his post so that his son-in-law could be saved,” she added.
Earlier in the day, Maharashtra Cabinet Minister and NCP leader Nawab Malik posted purported pictures of the “nikah” of Sameer Wankhede. The NCP leader also posted a screenshot of the “Nikah Nama” of Wankhede with his first wife Dr Shabana Quraishi.
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PAK ENVOY MEETS TALIBAN’S ACTING FM, DISCUSSES BILATERAL COOPERATION
KABUL: Pakistan’s envoy to Afghanistan Mansoor Ahmad Khan met Taliban acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and discussed bilateral cooperation between both countries.
“Pakistan Ambassador Mansoor Ahmad Khan met with acting FM Amir Khan Muttaqi and discussed bilateral cooperation, Khan said.
Pakistan has decided that wheat and emergency medicine provided by India can be transported from Wagah port in Pakistan on Afghan trucks to Afghanistan,” Tolo News reported.
Earlier, Pakistan’s envoy and the Taliban acting foreign minister met in the month of September where both sides discussed strengthening bilateral cooperation particularly facilitating humanitarian, economic and people-to-people exchange.
Pakistan, along with China were among the first countries that began engaging with Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover in August this year.
The meeting came amid the Taliban’s repeated appeal for wider international recognition. Pakistan is among the very few which seem to have started engaging with the outfit. Other members of the international community are taking a wait and watch approach.
TLP expanding after release of its leader Saad Hussain Rizvi
Formerly banned organisation Tehreek-E-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) is on a surge after the release of its leader Saad Hussain Rizvi and revoking of its ban by the Imran Khan government.
According to the International Forum for Rights and Security (IFFRAS), there was a rather secret deal between TLP and the Imran Khan government reached on October 31 to end the latest round of protests. The deal was not made public and on November 7, Khan’s cabinet revoked the declaration of the TLP as a banned group. The TLP benefitted mainly from the divisions between the PML-Nawaz government and the military establishment deep state’, IFFRAS said, adding that Pakistan military establishment’s effort to prop up different religious groups to deteriorate the PML-Nawaz government permitted the TLP to increase greater political space. Earlier, Rizvi was released on the eve of his father, Khadim Hussain Rizvi’s death anniversary on November 19 who was the founder of TLP.
Further, the TLP capable of mobilising thousands of supporters, was born in the year 2015 out of a remonstration movement to the Barelvi movement.
US ready to support Ukraine, help Kiev with defence
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says Washington is concerned about the situation in Ukraine and is ready to support Kiev.
Speaking at the Reagan National Defense Forum on Saturday, Austin said that the US is “very concerned” about the alleged buildup of Russian forces on the Ukrainian border and will try to ensure that Kiev “has what it needs” to defend its “sovereign territory.” The Pentagon chief said he was not going to speculate on different scenarios pertaining to the alleged Russian aggression on its borders.
Over the past several weeks, Ukraine and some Western countries have expressed concern about the alleged increase in what they characterise as “aggressive actions” by Russia on their border. However, Russia has refuted the accusations by saying it is moving troops within its own territory and at its own discretion.
US President Joe Biden plans to discuss the issue of Ukraine, as well as other topics, during the upcoming video call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, December 7.
Biden told reporters earlier this week, answering a question about the issue of Ukraine, that he expected a “long discussion” with the Russian President.
Russia has repeatedly said that it stands by its right to move armed forces freely within its territory. On November 23, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated that Russia does not have any aggressive plans with regard to Ukraine. The Kremlin has also expressed concerns about Kiev having aggregated almost half of all its armed forces on the contact line with the Donbas region in the east of the country.
EXPLOSIONS HEARD INSIDE US BASE IN SYRIA
Explosions were heard on Sunday inside a US military base in Syria, state news agency SANA reported.
The blasts were heard in the al-Tanf area in southeastern Syria, Xinhua news agency reported. Back in late October, the US base of At Tanf came under a drone attack. The White House believes that the recent attack on its military base in Syria was “deliberate and coordinated” and the United States reserves the right to respond.
CHINA CREATES ATMOSPHERE THAT EMBOLDENS MILITARY TO SEIZE POWER IN AFRICA
As Western powers continue to retreat from Africa, China is busy creating an atmosphere that emboldens generals and military cliques to seize power in one of the largest continent in the world, said a media report.
In an opinion piece for Al Jazeera, Harvard University lecturer Christopher Rhodes said that “backsliding on the part of Western powers, the rise of autocrat-friendly China, have created an atmosphere in Africa that emboldens generals and military cliques to seize power.” Rhodes further wrote that the coup, which had been widely rumoured in Sudan but still managed to blindside the United States, remains a source of outrage for Sudanese citizens. But Washington is yet to take a clear stance on the issue, Rhodes said.
According to the lecturer, the reaction from the West has diverged widely from that of Sudanese citizens, who continue to reject military hegemony. The report says that American diplomats have signaled acceptance of the new arrangement and willingness to turn a blind eye to the continued military dominance of the transition government.
This brings focus to the breakdown of the anti-coup coalition that had formed for Africa – a breakdown that has led to military interventions reemerging as a leading method by which power is transferred on the continent, Rhodes added.
Noting that the fight for democracy and against military rule in Africa has seen significant setbacks, Rhodes said while African populations remain overwhelmingly committed to democracy and opposed to military governments, the lack of reliable international pro-democracy partners makes the struggle against military rule much more difficult.
But as the sustained anti-military protests in Sudan demonstrate, local populations are willing to continue the fight for democracy, even if they must go it alone, said the lecturer.
PROTEST IN COLOMBO AGAINST LYNCHING OF SRI LANKAN EXECUTIVE IN PAKISTAN
A protest was held outside Pakistan High Commission in Colombo on Sunday by a large crowd, including a group of monks, against the killing of a Sri Lankan national in Sialkot city of Pakistan’s Punjab province.
Priyantha Kumara, a Sri Lankan executive of a garment factory was lynched and his body burnt by angry supporters of a hardline Islamist party that attacked the facility in Sialkot over blasphemy allegations on Friday.
A police official alleged that Kumara tore a poster of the hardline Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) in which Quranic verses were inscribed and threw it in the dustbin. A mob enraged over the alleged blasphemy incident, started gathering outside the factory from adjoining areas, most of them activists and supporters of the TLP.
They dragged the Sri Lankan executive, who was in his 40s, from the factory and severely tortured him. After he succumbed to his wounds, the mob burnt his body before police reached the crime spot. Late on Friday, Punjab police said they have arrested 100 suspects, after identifying them through video footage that went viral on social media.
Expressing grief over the lynching of his country’s citizen in Pakistan, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksha said that he was “shocked to see the brutal and fatal attack” on Priyantha Diyawadana by “extremist mobs in Pakistan”.
“My heart goes out to his wife and family”, Rajapaksha said in a tweet.
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